Pets don’t get to choose: The moral dilemma

We all know that animal pets are the only beings that dont get to choose when they eat, receive medication, go downstairs, upstairs, sleep on this couch or on the bed, pee in the box or outside, etc.

But at which point do we let them choose?

I recently had the most painful encounter with a beast that stole my heart fourteen years ago. His life was ended with euthanasia due to many threatening complications. Even though he was in no real pain before his death due to heavy amount of pain killers, he hadn’t eaten in a week before his passing. I am still struggling with the decision, that most likely saved him months or maybe weeks of more suffering.

Without getting too personal about this topic. I wish to discuss this issue through the animal welfare realm. However we don’t know the answer until the problem hits us in the face, just like it did for my own.

The moral dilemma questions the idea that pets, as living being with individual freedom should get a chance to live their lives out until they pass from natural causes. However, as pet owners, are we responsible for these decisions?

Would we allow medically assisted suicide to a human suffering due to a treatable illness (metastatic cancer) who would have to undergo multiple treatments?

These are all questions that we should ask ourselves in order to accept euthanasia as ethicists.

In a Psychology today article a man by the name of Elliot Cohen, asks the question “I wouldn’t request euthanasia for a child, so why Bentley?” which discusses the ethics of euthanasia in animals after he had tried multiple treatments for his dogs metastatic oral melanoma.

The debate is indeed a moral dilemma to consider. It is difficult and emotional as these pets become a part of the family. It’s just like losing your closest friend, but one that has seen you in your worst of times and best but never said a word. Never made a judgemental comment at your expense.

Make the call based on the question of is the animal living a qualitative life any longer, or has the disease consumed any possibility of a fulfilling and satisfying life for the animal. If an animal is experiencing considerable suffering but the owner is unwilling to let the animal go, this is commonly seen when the pet becomes a part of the family and there is a guilt of killing the animal too early.

Times have changed and societal views of euthanasia along with them. Whereas before,  owners didn’t blink at the thought of putting down a pet, now many are hesitant to euthanize as they go to great lengths to keep their sick animals alive.

With owners viewing their pets as family members, it becomes a difficult decision that they avoid making, regardless if it will benefit the animal or not.

The conclusion is this: if the animal is too sick to nourish itself and do at least two out of 5 of the usual activities it enjoys then it is time to say goodbye, but euthanizing a healthy animal for mere convenience is purely unethical.





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